Sunday, September 22, 2013

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook

**Sometimes the littlest things in life are the hardest to take.
You can sit on a mountain more comfortably than on a tack.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 9/21/13 -

Yesterday, 9/20/13 -

Earth's Biggest Deep Earthquake Still a Mystery - The LARGEST DEEP EARTHQUAKE EVER RECORDED HAPPENED IN MAY off the coast of Russia. But this massive temblor is still a mystery to scientists. The magnitude-8.3 earthquake occurred on May 24, 2013, in the Sea of Okhotsk, deep within the Earth's mantle. The earthquake is perplexing because seismologists don't understand how massive earthquakes can happen at such depths.
"It's the biggest event we've ever seen. It looks so similar to shallow events, even though it's got 600 kilometers of rock on top of it. It's hard to understand how such an earthquake occurs at all under such huge pressure." The Sea of Okhotsk earthquake occurred about 378 miles (609 km) beneath the Earth's surface, at a crack where the Pacific Plate was pressing into the mantle, the layer of hot, plastic rock that sits below the crust. Despite the depth at which it occurred, the quake was felt by people in Russia. (There were no injuries or property damage.)
A prior deep earthquake, in Bolivia in 1994, was the same magnitude, but released less energy. The rupture occurred at lightning-fast speeds of roughly 9,000 mph (14,400 km/h). "It ruptured just like a breaking of the glass. And yet it's under this huge pressure, so that's something of a mystery. How does it happen?" One possibility is that water or liquid carbon dioxide somehow seeped into the crack to lubricate it, thereby allowing the two slabs of rock to slide past each other more quickly. But though water and gas from the ocean may seep into the shallower depths of the Earth's surface, it's difficult to see how water could seep so deep below. "There may be some source of fluid that we haven't recognized."
Another possibility is that the main type of rock found at this depth, called olivine, goes through a mineral transformation because of the enormous pressures it is under, which then triggers sliding between different types of rock. A second paper bolsters the case for mineral transformation as the culprit for massive deep earthquakes. In that study, researchers subjected a tiny chunk of olivine, just a few hundredths of an inch wide, to pressure 50,000 times atmospheric levels — equivalent to the pressure felt deep inside the mantle.
The olivine transformed to a different crystal structure called spinel, and shear waves (one of the two main types of waves generated by earthquakes) began propagating incredibly fast. "These were propagating fast enough that they could radiate ultrasonic waves that we recorded." The waves also had similar properties to those found in deep earthquakes.
For instance, the transformation of olivine into its high-pressure crystalline structure is irreversible, so the rock couldn't experience aftershocks. In deep earthquakes, aftershocks are also uncommon. Even though the sample was tiny and the nano-earthquakes induced were a million, billion times less powerful than the biggest earthquakes, the physics behind the phenomenon is still the same. Both researchers said they were aware of the other's work, but that more research will be needed to pinpoint the cause of the Russian quake.

+ Mount Sinabung eruption danger continues - More than 15,000 residents have fled the volcano that rumbled to life less than a week ago in Indonesia and local airlines have been warned to avoid flying near the mountain as thick ash continues to spew from its crater. The number of people evacuated has doubled to more than 15,000 after many residents outside the 3-kilometer (1.9-mile) danger area abandoned their houses.
The volcano first erupted Sunday after being dormant for three years. A larger eruption occurred two days later volcanic ash and thick smoke were belched up to 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles) into the air that ignited fires on its slopes. The volcano’s last eruption in August 2010 killed two people and forced 30,000 others to flee. It caught many scientists off guard because it had been quiet for four centuries.

Super-Eruption Launched Algae Army Into the Sky - Slimy brown algae not only survived a wild ride into the stratosphere via a volcanic ash cloud, they landed on distant islands looking flawless, a new study finds.
"There's a crazy contrast between these delicate, glass-shelled organisms and one of the most powerful eruptions in Earth's history." The diatoms were launched by the Taupo super-eruption on New Zealand's North Island 25,000 years ago. More than 600 million cubic meters (20 billion cubic feet) of diatoms from a lake flew into the air. Lumped together, the microscopic cells speckled throughout Taupo's ash layers would make a pile as big as Hawaii's famed Diamond Head volcanic cone.
The Taupo Volcano super-eruption slammed through a deep lake that filled a rift valley, similar to the elongated lakes in East Africa. The combination of water and ash created a hellish dirty thunderstorm, with towering clouds and roaring winds. The detonation flung ash and algae upward at more than 250 mph (400 km/h). Volcanic hail (called accretionary lapilli) pelted the landscape for miles.
Some diatoms drifted as far as the Chatham Islands, 525 miles (850 kilometers) east of New Zealand. "They just hitched a ride." The pristine shells in the Chatham Island ash suggest diatoms could infect new niches by coasting on atmospheric currents. "If they made it there alive, this is one way microorganisms can travel and meet each other. We know that ash from smaller events easily travels around the world."
Diatoms, a golden brown algae, rule Earth's waterways. From Antarctica's glacial lakes to acidic hot springs to unkempt home aquariums, diatoms are everywhere. It's a good thing. The tiny creatures pump out up to 50 percent of the planet's oxygen. The algae look like little petri dishes or footballs, depending on the species, and spend most of their lives drifting on currents. How diatoms manage to colonize new homes remains a mystery: They can't swim.
Yet diatoms get around. When Wyoming's Yellowstone Lake emerged from its mile-thick ice cover 14,000 years ago, diatoms quickly arrived. "They had to be blown in by some mechanism or carried in by water birds." Diatoms particularly love volcanic lakes, because they are the only creatures that build shells of glass. Silica-rich magma often causes the volcanic explosions that leave behind lake-filled craters, and silica is the key ingredient in diatom shells. Yellowstone Lake, which sits in a caldera created by a super-eruption, contains so many diatoms that the lake sediments are mostly shells (85 percent by weight).
Now scientists know what happens to diatoms when a massive volcano like Yellowstone blasts through a big lake. Diatoms fashion spores to ride out inhospitable changes in their environment. Two years ago, Danish researchers revived 100-year-old resting spores from muck in a local fjord. Resting spores have been found in clouds. The eruption could have launched spores from the lake bottom into the atmosphere.


* In the Western Pacific -
Typhoon Usagi is located approximately 267 nm east of Hong Kong. Usagi - the year's most powerful typhoon - slammed into the Philippines' northernmost islands on Saturday Sept. 21, cutting communication and power lines, triggering landslides and inundating rice fields.

Tropical Storm Pabuk is located approximately 285 nm south-southeast of Iwo To, Japan.

Typhoon Usagi weakened in Taiwan - No deaths have been reported from Typhoon Usagi but nine people have been injured by falling tree branches in Taiwan. The Central Weather Bureau has lifted a warning for Typhoon Usagi but says continued heavy rain is possible in the eastern and southern highlands.
Usagi brought heavy rains across the island on Saturday, causing floods in some low-lying areas in the southern regions. Accumulated rainfall in eastern Ilan county exceeded 500 millimetres. 3349 residents were evacuated and 1388 people stayed in 62 shelters. The storm had weakened but boats sailing on the Taiwan Strait and the Bashi Channel were warned remain cautious. The sea warning may be lifted this afternoon. The storm was moving west-northwest toward Hong Kong and southern China.

+ Usagi is likely to be one of the five strongest typhoons to affect Hong Hong in the past 50 years. If the eye of the storm hits just west of Hong Kong, a large storm surge capable of causing over a billion dollars in damage will inundate portions of the coast along the bay that Hong Kong, Macau, and Shenzhen share. Dangerous Category 3 Typhoon Usagi was charging through the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and the Philippines on its way towards China, where landfall is expected near 2 pm EDT on Sunday (early Monday morning local time ) near Hong Hong.
The typhoon battered the northern Philippine Batanes Islands overnight with wind gusts of up to 155 mph (250 kph), ripping down power lines and damaging crops. Torrential rains of over a foot (305 mm) have fallen in 24 hours over eastern Taiwan, where Usagi's counterclockwise flow of moist air rode up over the high mountains of the island. Usagi reached its peak strength on Thursday, taking advantage of low wind shear and very warm waters 30°C with high heat content, to intensify to a Category 5 super typhoon with 160 mph winds.
On Friday, Usagi began an eyewall replacement cycle that the typhoon is still attempting to complete. This process, where the inner eyewall collapses and a new, larger-diameter eyewall forms from an outer spiral band, typically causes a reduction in intensity by one Saffir-Simpson category, but spreads out the storm's hurricane-force winds over a larger area. By the time Usagi reaches the coast near Hong Hong, the storm should be at Category 2 strength. This is still strong enough to pose a formidable storm surge, wind, and heavy rain threat to China.

Almost the entire length of Japan was drenched by Tropical Storm Man-yi, which forced a quarter of a million people into shelters and added a new factor to the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. At least four people died in storm-related accidents, including two women who were killed by landslides. Most air and rail services were suspended due to the storm.
Nearly 20 inches of rainfall fell within a 48-hour period, causing rivers to burst their banks and producing “UNPRECEDENTED” FLOODING in the historic city of Kyoto. All of neighboring Fukuchiyama’s 81,000 residents were ordered to evacuate after muddy waters swallowed the city and surrounding areas. More than 100 people were injured across the country by Man-yi’s rampage.
The excessive rainfall also forced the Tokyo Electric Power Co. to discharge accumulating radioactive water from the meltdown-plagued Fukushima power plant into the Pacific to prevent the complex from flooding. Recent acknowledgements by officials that radioactive water is leaking from the plant have triggered safety concerns. Even before the typhoon arrived, TEPCO management conceded that the situation at the wrecked facility was “out of control.”

+ Texas - Tropical storms bringing rain, but not a deluge. Possible “minor flooding of low-lying areas”. The entire state is getting long-awaited rain because it was sandwiched Thursday between two tropical storms sliding north from both sides of Mexico. Plus there is a normal supply of moisture from the Gulf. The showers and thunderstorms will be gone by Saturday.
One of the tropical storms, Manuel, was out of the eastern Pacific, while Tropical Storm Ingrid rolled into Texas from the Caribbean. Forecasters are predicting that counties to the northwest of Fort Worth will get up to an inch of rain on Friday. Fort Worth and Tarrant County should get more than an inch. Areas to the south of Fort Worth could receive almost 2 inches.
In September so far, Fort Worth has recorded only 0.26 of an inch of rain. The normal amount through Sept. 19 is 1.70. That’s a shortfall of 1.44. On the year so far, Fort Worth received 18.93 inches through Thursday, down 6.88 inches from the normal of 25.81 as of Sept. 19. Rainfall amounts today will depend on how fast the cold front arrives and the size of the storms.

+ Rare brain-eating amoeba may be linked to Hurricane Katrina - A rare brain-eating amoeba that killed a 4-year-old boy in Louisiana may be a result of Hurricane Katrina. Tests of St. Bernard Parish water supply confirmed the presence of Naegleria fowleri. The water is safe to drink, state officials said, but cautioned against getting it in the nose.
Naegleria fowleri is found in hot springs and warm fresh water, most often in the southeastern United States. It enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain.Experts say Hurricane Katrina, which hit the state in August 2005, may ultimately be to blame. St. Bernard Parish — where the visiting boy from Mississippi was infected while playing on a water slide — was one of the main areas affected by the hurricane. The reduced population following the hurricane left most of the water stagnant, which affected its makeup.
“One of the concerns is that it was such a drastic population drop after Katrina and the water aged … just by sitting in the pipes and also a drop in lower demand. The more quickly it is used up (the water), the more the water system is able to process a good chlorine system.” If the water is not used, the chlorine dissipates while organisms thrive. “We are actively increasing the chlorine level in the parish water system combined with flushing the water system." Parishes along the Gulf Coast began flushing water lines with chlorine last week.
There is no danger of infection from drinking or cooking with contaminated water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Naegleria fowleri associated with disinfected public drinking water has caused deaths in only one other case in the United States. The water came from an untreated drinking water system in Arizona; two children died there in 2003.
Officials said less than 1% of patients survive the deadly brain infection, but an experimental drug from the CDC has shown promise in fighting it. A12-year-old in Arkansas survived after contracting the amoeba in July, possibly at a Little Rock water park. The first symptoms of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis appear one to seven days after infection, including headache and fever.

Mexico - It is likely that all 68 people missing after a huge mudslide in the village of La Pintada are dead. If confirmed, the deaths would raise the toll from Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid to around 170. Among the dead are five crew members of a crashed rescue helicopter.
The two powerful storms hit Mexico at the start of the week. Tropical Storm Manuel ripped through the state of Guerrero before returning to the Pacific. On the Gulf coast of Mexico, Hurricane Ingrid caused destruction mainly in the eastern state of Tamaulipas early in the week, before dissipating. The president said there was "little hope of finding anyone alive", but promised to rebuild La Pintada and the resort of Acapulco, which both suffered heavy damage.
Tens of thousands of people were left homeless and the cost of rebuilding roads alone is estimated at $3 billion. Tens of thousands of tourists were left stranded at the coastal resort after Tropical Storm Manuel hit on Monday. Around 20,000 were airlifted to Mexico City, while a similar number was transported by bus since Thursday, when the road links were re-established.
Tropical Storm Manuel, which on Thursday briefly became a hurricane, also affected 100,000 people in Sinaloa state. At least 15 towns were cut off from the rest of the state by water and mud. The neighbouring states Oaxaca and Michoacan were also hard hit. Later in the week, Manuel returned with more power, lashing the north-western state of Sinaloa with winds of up to 120kmph (75mph) and floods. Officials say more than 100,000 people were affected by the return of Manuel to land on Thursday, before it dissipated in northern Mexico.


+ Rain, floods devastate Uruguay sheep farms - Massive waves hit some outlying areas, prompting an orange alert from rescue teams on standby in the area. Stormy weather played havoc with Uruguayan agriculture and livestock farms, killing thousands of animals, disrupting electricity supplies and communications. There were no immediate reports of any human casualties but officials said they were struggling to maintain contact with affected areas where sheep recently sheared for wool died in driving rain and cold. About 1,000 farmers were evacuated from flooded areas.
Trouble began after a cyclone hit parts of the country Sept. 17. Heavy downpours and flooding followed, and large tracts of farming regions were inundated by water. At least 30,000 sheep died in the first reports of impact on farms. The sudden death of thousands of sheep will result in wool shortfalls.
Some of the worst hit areas were Uruguay's north and northwest, where sustained rain, flooding and a sudden drop in temperatures claimed sheep that were recently sheared. Officials warned farmers against eating carcasses of animals killed in the storms. Uruguay has about 8 million sheep, most of the stock maintained for wool and meat exports and for the country's human population of about 3.4 million.
The storms caused a curious row between Uruguayan agribusinesses and a Brazilian weather forecast website, MetSul, which was accused by some Uruguayan farmers of exaggerating the weather conditions before the storms struck. MetSul says it issued correct weather forecasts on the basis of historical data. It countered that Uruguayan farmers hadn't bothered to be prepared for the full force of the storms. The farmers received a dressing down, accused of failing to learn from climate trends and past experience of weather vagaries and for not making adequate contingency plans.

+ A Coastal Flood Advisory is in effect for the Louisiana coastal parishes. The combination of Gulf and Pacific moisture converging over Louisiana could mean for some hefty rainfall totals over the weekend. Two to four inches of rain were expected over the three day period Friday through Sunday. But some of the storms will develop and run across the same areas over and over. This is called "training" because it looks like the storms are on train tracks and storm after storm rolls over the same geographic area. When this occurs, isolated areas can pick up much more rain than the average totals elsewhere.
There are indications that as the front moves in from the northwest, the Pacific moisture from the remnants of Hurricane Manuel will precede the front. Gulf moisture will drift in from the southeast at the same time. This sets the stage for the heavy rain event. Some areas can potentially see up to eight inches of rain before the end of the day Sunday.

More oil spills have been found in a Colorado oil field swamped by floodwaters and regulators caution that more oil releases are likely to be found in coming days. The latest spills include 9000 litres of oil spilled from a group of storage tanks, more than 12,000 litres from an oil tank that floated away and at least two others from damaged storage tanks involving unknown volumes. That brings the known volume of oil released since massive flooding began last week along Colorado's Front Range to at least an estimated 83,000 litres. That's about 525 barrels. Unknown yet is whether any pipelines have leaked.
An aerial survey of the flood area on Thursday revealed up to two dozen overturned oil storage tanks. Releases from those tanks could not be immediately confirmed. Also unknown yet is whether any pipelines have leaked.
With many roads in the area washed out, the spill sites remained largely inaccessible, preventing clean-up work from getting underway until water levels drop. "We've got a couple of amphibious vehicles and flat-bottom boats that we're using, but really until things have a chance to dry out and some of the infrastructure issues are sorted out, it's going to be difficult." State officials say much of the oil has been carried at least some distance by floodwaters, meaning recovering it could be difficult or impossible.

+ BOULDER RAIN EVENT WAS PREDICTED 7 YEARS AGO by The Weather Channel - Over a two year period, The Weather Channel aired 23 episodes of the series "It Could Happen Tomorrow." Nearly two dozen doomsday scenarios were explored, ranging from catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis to EF5 tornadoes and major hurricanes hitting big cities. A week ago, the series' ninth episode, which originally aired on April 16, 2006, came true in Boulder, Colorado.
The 30-minute piece told a tale of an elongated rain event hitting the town, leading to flash flooding, huge amounts of property damage and a massive loss of life. Fortunately, the death toll was much lower than the show predicted, but the damage was still severe. Towns were cut off for days and the price tag may top $2 billion.
And though the death toll was smaller, the prolonged rain event brought many more towns into the disaster than the show predicted. News of massive flooding first came from Boulder early Wednesday morning, but over the next couple of days, other towns like Jamestown, Aurora and Lyons had flash flooding that required evacuations and water rescues.
As the event played out, the unlikelihood of such a 1,000-year flood happening left some experts in disbelief. It presented a challenge for meteorologists — give the public an accurate forecast for SOMETHING THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED IN RECORDED HISTORY.
"Forecasting an extreme event is something meteorologists do with extreme care. Whether it's the 1993 Superstorm, Superstorm Sandy, or the April 2011 Superoutbreak, we have to balance between overwarning and missing an event being too cautious. That said, the large-scale pattern was certainly primed for flash flooding in Colorado, with a deep tropical moisture tap. Winds aloft up to about 15,000 feet above the ground were out of the south or southeast, helping to pin bands of rain along the Foothills and Front ange....Unusually strong high-pressure systems are developing with increasing frequency, and these systems tend to slow down the weather, thus increasing the duration of the events."
Here are a few other episodes that were nearly proven true by natural disasters that occurred after the episode aired:
"New York City Hurricane Express" (Jan. 15, 2006) was the pilot episode of the series, which focused on the consequences of a Category 3 hurricane making a direct hit on New York City. Superstorm Sandy was not a Category 3 hurricane, but it was still a devastating post-tropical cyclone that crippled much of the Big Apple.
"Dallas Tornado Danger" (Episode 2, Jan. 23, 2006) predicted the horrors of an EF5 tornado ripping through the Texas Metroplex, and while a tornado outbreak hit the area on April 3, 2012, none of the tornadoes in the city were stronger than EF2.
"California Wildfires" (Episode 7, March 27, 2006) forecasts the devastation an out-of-control wildfire could do on its march to the sea. No fires have played out like that yet, but since the episode premiered, six of the 10 largest wildfires in California history have occurred.

+ South Carolina - Summer of RECORD-BREAKING RAINFALL across South Carolina caused $5.6 million in damage to 132 roads and bridges. Officials said Thursday that seven roads remain closed, but they are mostly lightly-traveled mountain routes. The state only has $2.2 million set aside for emergency road maintenance, so the rest of the bill will have to come from money set aside for general maintenance. More than $4 million of damage was done in 11 Upstate counties.
At least a dozen places across South Carolina reported THE WETTEST PERIOD THEY HAVE EVER HAD between June and August. Areas in the Upstate received more than 30 inches of rain.


The September equinox occurs at 4:44 p.m. EDT (20:44 UT) today, Sept. 22nd, when the Sun crosses the equator heading south. This marks the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere and spring in the southern hemisphere.